Justin: Hachiken and Mikage’s fates are determined on November 30. For Hachiken, his business with Ookawa has to go well or else any backing in his business will only be a pipe dream. Meanwhile, Mikage’s desire to get into Ooezo University all comes down to studying, her passion, and some hope…and lots of luck! Whatever the case, they have upcoming challenges that they must face! Or else!
…Would it surprise you what did happen to the two of them? Actually yes because Arakawa’s too damn good at creating manga.
While I’m sure this is a case of recency bias, and likely mentioned in other volumes of Silver Spoon, volume 14 has to be funniest in the series. The comedy that Arakawa brings is just completely unique. Like the first chapter in this volume has literally everyone (except key figure Ookawa) “Hmmmmmmmmm”-ing, as they’re all in states of anguish and stress as the Ezo Ag third-years begin planning their futures. It’s done in such a way that you can’t help but form a smile. Mastery of comedic timing is hard, but whether it’s Nishikawa marrying farm knowledge with otaku life or Hachiken thinking Mikage’s gonna call him…and not only does he get a call from his older brother instead, but other people call him at the most crucial times, it’s just a riot.
However, there’s one comedic situation that must be told. After all, it involves Ookawa, who has long been the butt of being unreliable in this series. But things seem to be looking up! There’s a brick oven he made that seemed to be well-received and would help Silver Spoon Co. LTD’s expenses. The pizzas the two made sold out. Yet despite all of that, they still ended up in debt due to additional costs. What does Ookawa do in the face of that? Use a few of their expenses for horse betting in an attempt to make it all back plus more!
…The ire that Ookawa drew that day when the horse he bet on lost is so legendary…meanwhile I was laughing and crying to the point where stopping to read made a lot of sense. Good thing I did, because the joke still continued to the next chapter since they had to review the day’s events! Like I said, Arakawa’s humor knows no bounds.
The humor also extends to the romance, which has many ranges. It can range from a high school girl falling for a high school boy’s beef; a confession made in the middle of horse manure; and Nishikawa finally desiring to get a real girlfriend, only for the person to reject him normally because, full quote:
“Huh? But doesn’t your family run a vegetable farm? I’m only interested in livestock farmers.”
Note that there’s other things occurring while this is going on that further enhances the rejection, but yes, Nishikawa was not the same after that day…
And of course, even Hachiken and Mikage can’t get it together either! Yes, they like each other! But even during confession and after confession, many shenanigans (which also involve Mikage’s dad) occur, and it all happens at times that can’t help but make me bust a gut.
But despite this volume of Silver Spoon packing all this comedy, the groundwork for the final volume has been set. You had moments where Mikage really came into her own during her exam, everyone coming to grips with their futures, and naturally, Hachiken’s fate all coming back to family. He knows he ran away from them to start, but over his time at Ezo Ag he’s been trying to find a path that he can move forward with. Now, running away isn’t an option anymore. Will be looking forward to finding out how he tackles his biggest challenge yet, and the future of all the rascals at Ezo Ag.
Justin’s rating: 5 out of 5
Krystallina: Prepare the pizza and prepare for exams! With the Ban’ei race and Mikage’s exam taking place on the same day, Hachiken’s future — both personal and professional — hangs in the balance.
It’s Silver Spoon‘s penultimate volume, so it’s almost time to say goodbye to Hachiken and all these wonderful characters. As such, readers want to know what the post-Ezo Ag life for all of them, and with such a large cast, Arakawa has a lot to cover. She mentions in her postscript that she put this series on pause because of a family member’s health issues, and then she had a streak of bad luck regarding a research trip. I think all of this turns volume 14 into one of those that covers a lot, but doesn’t go as far as I wished — a jack-of-all-trades but a master of none in a way.
That being said, this volume does focus on Hachiken and Mikage’s feelings for each other, and there’s actual development on that front! But even with their changing relationship, Arakawa assures us that they’ll both be their somewhat doofy selves with friends to support (and “support”) them. And as Mikage and others nail down their post-graduation plans, Hachiken, Ookawa, and others work on their current moneymaking gigs. For a lot of them, the focus is on the pizza Hachiken and Ookawa plan on selling at the horse race. The right cheese, the thickness of the crust, the appeal of the flyers — there’s a lot of decisions to make.
Both Hachiken’s stand and Mikage’s test are scheduled for the same day, and the two must handle their nerves before and after the actual events. Meanwhile, the manga flitters between other events and characters during this time. Hachiken’s brother calls with some big news. The school festival comes and goes in the span of a chapter. Ookawa and Tokiwa prove they’re both idiots and idiot savants.
No doubt I enjoyed a lot of this volume — Ookawa’s face (or rather, lack of) in one chapter being my favorite — but there were times I wish we could have gotten a little bit more. A little more of the school festival. A little more of Yoshino after her first job offer sets off more warning bells than an email from a Nigerian prince. A little more of Aikawa after the results. What Ayame said after Mikage’s great-grandma explained what they were talking about at dinner. I’m sure we’ll be checking in with Aikawa, Yoshino, and the others in the final volume, but I felt there was a disconnect between the more story-based arcs of the Silver Spoon business and Hachiken/Mikage versus the randomness or lighter arcs like Tokiwa’s yogurt or making naan.
Maybe I just don’t want this series to end just yet. Because there were so many golden opportunities for follow-up gags or just hang out with these characters a little longer as they deal with the melancholy of their third year in high school. Unfortunately, Silver Spoon volume 14 seems limited by its approaching ending even though it still has plenty of solid material — or, as Tokiwa would say, #retweetsplease.
Krystallina’s rating: 4 out of 5